The AsphaltPro staff continues its series to introduce you to the asphalt industry directors who help guide the positive direction of the asphalt industry. This month we share the new regional director of the Asphalt Pavement Alliance (APA), Dan Staebell, who was introduced during the flurry of World of Asphalt, March 2016. He is a veteran of the asphalt industry with the task of overseeing the north central region from his hometown of Manchester, Iowa.
Asphalt Pavement Alliance (APA), Lanham, Maryland
How long have you been in the asphalt industry?
In what year was your association formed?
NC Regional Director
Which states will make up the territory you’ll represent for APA?
NC region consists of Minnesota to Missouri and Kentucky to Kansas.
What activities or responsibilities will you undertake for that region?
Building asphalt pavement awareness and improvement using education, technical marketing, and deployment of the many projects coming out of the Pavement Economics Committee and Go-To-Market campaigns of the APA.
What can you share with the readers about the educational seminars that will be held in your region throughout the year?
There are many exciting changes going on in the asphalt industry related to always improving durability using balanced mix designs. Also new maintenance treatments using high performance asphalt Thinlays. The industry continually develops ways to properly increase the use of RAP and WMA. All of these topics show the industry’s continuous move to enhancing its sustainability efforts.
About how many conventions related to the transportation industry in general do you anticipate attending per year?
I plan on participating in regional trade shows and conventions to enlighten the regional marketplace on the purpose and value of the APA along with facilitating our Drivability campaign. Nationally the APA will be exhibiting at eight shows annually.
About how many asphalt projects do you plan to visit per paving season?
As many as possible and in as many different states as I will be traveling to. It is very important to keep on top of projects related to our industry and seeing best practices amongst our membership.
About how many state agency or DOT meetings do you attend per year?
Visiting with the regional DOTs in conjunction with the state pavement executives allows for feedback that is critical to our industry’s success and continuous development. There is a perception that the market is very fragmented amongst the states as it relates to different specifications, different construction requirements, etc. But I believe at the end of the day, there is the commonality of quality amongst all of our states and regions. I hope to build on that and share the common approaches to meeting those quality expectations.
On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being none at all; 5 being very much), how much of a threat to your members’ marketshare/livelihood is the concrete industry in the north central region?
The concrete industry is very aggressive in market share in this region. The asphalt industry is very formidable as we bring a very high level product and service to our agency and driving public. They expect that and we deliver on those needs. In part this competitive spirit has made our industry better and better every decade, and we will continue that far into the future. The APA is here to assist as best we can in delivering on that very positive message.
Could you share an example/anecdote of a time when the concrete industry encroached on the asphalt marketplace in the region you’ll be representing?
The rehabilitation market is something our industry does extremely well. We can improve pavements with ride and structure in a very timely and most cost effective manner. This is what we do, and with funding so critical for our agency partners, getting the best and most economical rehab and construction practice in place is even more critical today.
Our industry’s efforts using Cold In-place Recycling (CIR), full depth pulverization and reclamation (FDR) with or without binder injection, interlayers, etc., are tools that are second to none in providing an economical and versatile project. These are tools that we see our agency partners using at an increasing amount. They see the value and long term performance they are getting from them, which in turn creates a very happy driving public.
On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being none at all; 5 being very much), how much difficulty are members in your region having in finding qualified workers for their asphalt paving or production crews?
I would give this a 4. This is a very difficult situation for many of the industry. Finding young and dedicated people to work in a sometimes difficult and challenging job, is very much an issue. Companies are looking at every way possible to entice the “new workforce” into our industry. This is an issue for many of the construction related industries, as discussed throughout this past winter. One thing is for sure, young people who enter these industries will get it in their blood and find a very high level of accomplishment each and every day.
On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being none at all; 5 being very much), how involved would you say the asphalt members in your region are in transportation issues such as funding and infrastructure improvements?
I would give this a 5. Asphalt members are fully engaged in these arenas. Funding and the need for improving an aging overall infrastructure are critical for our agencies. They are dealing with limited and strapped funding levels, which in many cases have not been enhanced monetarily. We along with our agencies continue to do what we can to support efforts in revitalizing and improving our infrastructure to a high level of service for the traveling public.
Could you share an example of a time when a company you’ve worked with hosted elected officials to educate them on the need for highway funding or construction workforce development, etc.?
The Mathy Construction Company has dedicated resource time to working with and informing our elected officials on industry related issues and to educate them on the importance of the industry. Jobs and economic enhancement are critical issues for our elected leaders to hear about, and it is wonderful that companies support and provide this leadership.
Get-to-Know Dan Staebell
Why (or how) did you join the asphalt industry?
I was very fortunate for an individual, Milt Dakovich, to take a chance on me to be an estimator/sales person for Aspro Inc., Waterloo, Iowa, in 1980. That was many years ago, but without that opportunity it would not have provided me this chance to find an industry that I truly have a passion for. I have many mentors to thank, but the first one really provided the backbone to a very enjoyable career.
What do you see as the most important part of your job as a regional director of APA?
The most important part of my job right now is education, product marketing, and listening. We have a very large consultant base, and new young engineers that really are wanting to understand and know our product better. Bringing it to them in a simple, easily understood manner is something that I will strive to do and to help our SAPA executives with. Along with that I will listen to what our customers continue to need and want. With that feedback we can react and continue to improve to meet increasing expectations.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Knowing our agencies’ hands are tied in many cases when funding of projects falls short of their desired need and engineering fix. Our industry has many ways to assist in delivering techniques to enhance the pavement infrastructure out there. The challenge is finding the absolute best economic, durable and long lasting fix that can fit their budget. The agencies have a very difficult and demanding job balancing today’s infrastructure projects. We will continue to do whatever we can as an industry to assist those challenges.
If you could change one event during your time in the industry, what would that item be?
I would have tried to find a way to go back to school and to get a CE degree or even a PE. More education and having that deeper knowledge early in my career and even today would have provided additional assistance. I have enjoyed learning from some of the smartest professors, practitioners and mentors over my 35 years. But the school of “hard knocks” is never ending and I enjoy it immensely.
What has been the most rewarding experience for you during your time in the industry?
I can think of two things. First, being married to a wonderful woman, my wife Vicky for nearly 36 years and raising four amazing children who have all put up with my years of traveling, long hours and being gone from home. They are true blessings to me. Second, working with great people. This industry is a rough and tumble industry. People work hard in tough and stressful environments; however, at the end of the day they have accomplished great things. Pavements that provide safe, quick and smooth enhancements for the traveling public.